Modern heritage – the architecture, town planning and landscape design of the modern era, or the last two hundred years or so – is still underrepresented on the World Heritage List. And yet it is an integral part of many urban ensembles, which represent a majority of sites on the List. Raising awareness of the significance of this heritage, and addressing issues on its preservation and valorization, is the focus of the World Heritage Centre’s Modern Heritage Programme, and of many heritage experts. Drawing attention to these structures, and encouraging the development of legal protection for them, is beginning to build momentum.
In this issue, we will look closely at the Sydney Opera House (Australia), from its construction to its role today as a vibrant cultural centre; Grimeton Radio Station (Sweden), a monument to early wireless transatlantic communication built in 1922-1924 and still in working condition; and the city of Brasilia (Brazil), that landmark of town planning by urban planner Lucio Costa and architect Oscar Niemeyer. We will also learn about the evolution of the identification of modern heritage in the Arab region, and in an interview with Hubert Jan Henket, architect and co-founder of the International Committee for Documentation and Conservation of Buildings, Sites and neighbourhoods of the Modern Movement (DOCOMOMO), we will explore the recognition of modern heritage, international collaboration and other aspects of conservation.
In addition, the issue presents the 21 new sites inscribed on the World Heritage List during the 41st session of the World Heritage Committee in Krakow, from 2 to 12 July 2017. These include two sites that are the first to be inscribed in their country: Mbanza Kongo in Angola, and in Eritrea, the site of Asmara: A Modernist City of Africa. Asmara is an exceptional example of early modernist urbanism at the beginning of the 20th century and its application in an African context. As pointed out in the lead article by Afredo Conti, Vice President of ICOMOS, the international community has started recognizing modern heritage that until recently was barely valued at all. Identifying and preserving our modern heritage is indeed an important issue of the moment.
Director of the UNESCO World Heritage Centre
World Heritage extends its gratitude to Mr Karim Hendili, Culture Programme Specialist at the UNESCO Rabat Office, for his valuable support to the conception of this issue’s In Focus “World Heritage and Modern Heritage”.
Table of Contents
Modern heritage and the World Heritage Convention
The Modern Heritage Programme focuses on raising awareness about the heritage of architecture, town planning and landscape design of the modern era, which is considered to be particularly vulnerable because of weak legal protection and low appreciation among the general public.
Brasilia in the 21st century
Brasilia represented the perspective of turning certain ideals inherent to modernity into reality: acting upon nature and society by rational means, and constructing a new social order from a plan.
Changing sails: Conserving the Sydney Opera House
When the Sydney Opera House was listed as World Heritage, it was recognized that this was a modern building where existing and ongoing functional change and development would be an intrinsic part of its future life.
Grimeton Radio Station
A World Heritage site with global reach
The site is an outstanding example of the development of telecommunications and is the only surviving example of a major transmitting station based on pre-electronic technology.
The heritage of urban and architectural modernities in the Arab world
The heritage of urban and architectural modernities in the Arab world of the 19th and 20th centuries played an essential role in understanding the evolution of the urban space and planning its future development.
New World Heritage sites 2017
New World Heritage sites inscribed during the 41st session of the World Heritage Committee held in Krakow (Poland) in July 2017.
Interview with Hubert Jan Henket, architect, professor emeritus of Delft University and Eindhoven University, and cofounder of the International Committee for Documentation and Conservation of Buildings, Sites and Neighbourhoods of the Modern Movement (DOCOMOMO).
ICCROM: Capacity-building for the conservation of Modern Heritage.
23 new sites added to UNESCO’s World Network of Biosphere Reserves.
Committee increases World Heritage List by 21; Heritage potential of aviation and aerospace; Linking nature and culture in World Heritage management; World Heritage of religious interest in the Asia-Pacific Region; Recognizing universal practices; Report stresses urgency of protecting the Arctic from ships and oil.
Committee adds two sites to the Danger List and removes three.
Partners for World Heritage meet during Committee session; Youth Forum: Mobilization and Transmission of Expertise; Children pledge to protect ocean treasures; ‘Marketplace for World Heritage’ launched.